High blood pressure and cold meds

Decongestants can pose a dangerous risk to those with hypertension


Cold medicines are not off-limits if you have heart disease, but if you have high blood pressure or hypertension, you should check the label carefully when picking a medicine to fight a cold or flu. Make sure the medication you are taking is free of decongestants — such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline — which can increase your blood pressure and heart rate.

Decongestants can also prevent your blood pressure medication from working properly. And always read the active and inactive ingredient lists because many medications are high in sodium, which also raises blood pressure.

Ask your doctor for suggestions about other ways to ease your symptoms, including taking Coricidin HBP, which is free of decongestants.

Other steps to minimize your symptoms

If you can’t take a decongestant because of high blood pressure, there are other ways to reduce your cold symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, including water, juice, tea or soup, to prevent dehydration and clear mucus from your lungs.
  • Take a pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Motrin, for fever, sore throat, body aches and headache.
  • Flush your sinuses with a saline spray to relieve nasal congestion.
  • Soothe a sore or scratchy throat with lozenges.
  • Make sure your home has ample humidity. Use a vaporizer or humidifier if necessary.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Go back to see your doctor after 5-7 days to make sure you’re on the road to recovery.

Before taking any new medication

  • Check with your pharmacist, who can tell you if the medications are compatible with certain medical conditions and/or your current drug therapy.
  • If you have a heart condition, discuss all medication choices with your cardiologist before taking anything.

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Mary C. Passow is a Clinical Care Coordinator in Adult Cardiac Surgery at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center where she works with post-surgical cardiac patients.




Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.